CARSON CITY – The Nevada Supreme Court needs its own police force at a time of increased fear of violence against the judiciary, Chief Justice Kris Pickering said Monday.
Pickering told a legislative budget subcommittee that at the court’s law library, open to the public, there have been Internet searches for justices’ home addresses and names of spouses.
She added the court now relies on Capitol Police for protection but does not always get the amount of protection it wants. For their Las Vegas office, justices have switched to the U.S. Marshals Service.
In its budget request for 2013-15, the court has requested more than $430,000 for 2.5 police positions. The officers would work under the justices’ direct supervision.
In making her request, Pickering noted that District Judge Chuck Weller of Reno was shot in 2006 while standing at his office window and sthat a marshal was killed in 2009 at Las Vegas federal court.
Pickering said people can become quite agitated about courts, feeling their sentences were unfair or that people who may have harmed them got off with minor sentences.
She added the court is working on a security program. The law library, on the court’s first floor in Carson City, is open to anyone, not just lawyers or court staff researching cases. There are only three law libraries of any size in the state, she added.
Homeless people wander into the building to get out of the cold or just sleep.
Police are on the second floor but have cameras that observe all entrances and parts of the court building. Justices have their offices on upper floors that cannot be reached without keys or the help of police.
"We are not trying to close it but protect it," said Pickering about the library after the hearing.
She noted at the start of the meeting that the Supreme Court is an equal branch of government that the Legislature and executive branch do not control. As a result, the Legislature cannot change its budget. Justices are seeking $119 million in the 2013-15 period.